"Hi, my name is Emily. I'm a single mom, and I cannot believe I'm The Bachelorette. That's wild!"
And so began Emily Maynard's Season 8 search for love "and a father figure" for daughter Ricki, 6. "My daughter is the most important thing in my life," she said at the beginning of the show, reminding us that she's the show's first single mom to travel the ABC show's road to romance.
Barbie-doll pretty Emily, 26, recounted how her first fiance, NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, was killed in a plane accident in 2004, and she learned the following Friday she was pregnant with Ricki. Now, she wants "a husband to love me!"
The show recapped her moments with Bachelor Brad Womack, her second fiance. "I fell really hard for him," Emily says. And when it ended, she was "obviously heartbroken."
But, she added, "like a lot of girls, I've had my heart broken. And it's hard to put yourself out there again, but you have to. You've got to put on your big-girl panties and move on with it."
We got to see Ricki a lot in the opening scenes, and there was a lot of talk about the tragic death of Ricki's dad, but Emily said she really doesn't "want to talk about it anymore."
Asked by host Chris Harrison what she sees for herself in five years, Emily said, "A minivan full of babies."
So bring on the guys!
Memorable moments from the men included Travis, an ad sales rep who arrived with an ostrich egg. He said it was "a symbol" of her and Ricki. "Throughout this journey, I will take care of this egg like I will take care of you and Ricki," he said.
Tony, from Beaverton, Ore., came in holding a pillow with a glass slipper. "The name's Charming, Prince Charming." He put it on her foot. "I think I found my princess." Said Emily, "Thanks for the shoe."
Doug, from Seattle, who has a son, 11, said: "I'm a hugger. Hope that's OK?"
Jackson, a fitness model, got down on one knee: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the number of moments that take our breath away. This is one of those moments."
"Emily! What do you say?!" shouted Joe, a field energy adviser from L.A.
Said Aaron, "I'm a high school biology teacher, but I'm here to have chemistry with you."
Jef, from Salt Lake City, arrived in a suit while riding a skateboard and holding onto the limo. "I really like Jef," said Emily. "He made a great first impression. He's super cool, and I hope he thinks I'm cool, too."
Stevie, a party MC, arrived dancing and carrying a boom box.
Randy, a marketing manager, came dressed like an old lady, then ripped off his costume and introduced himself. "Very creative," said Emily.
Nate, an accountant from L.A., came in doing nothing. "You look gorgeous," he said. "So cute," muttered Emily, staring after him.
Long-haired Michael, from Austin, brought her a guitar pick.
Kalon, a luxury brand consultant from Houston, arrived via helicopter. "That was impressive," said Emily.
Chris, a corporate sales director from Chicago, gave her bobble-heads of himself and her.
She gave a first-impression rose to Doug, who shared a letter written to Emily from his son, Austin. "It's cool to have somebody else here who gets what I'm going through."
She gave roses to Chris, Ryan, Kalon, Arie, Charlie, Jef, Nate, Sean, Joe, Kyle, Aaron, Alejandro, John, Alessandro, Michael, Stevie, Tony and Travis.
Among the men sent home was Lerone, a 29-year-old real estate consultant from Los Angeles, and Brent, 41, a technology salesman with six kids.